It’s been a week since the news Perth Glory had rorted the salary cap broke. The darkest day in the club’s history saw the club stripped of their spot in the upcoming finals series. And yet, the fallout continues.
After maintaining their innocence since the allegations broke in December, even going so far as to take the fight to the Supreme Court in the hope they’d overturn the finals ban, Perth Glory CEO Jason Brewer resigned.
Despite an illogical statement (he affectively apologised for the mess he landed the club in, but still believed they’d done nothing illegal…), it was a move expected by many, and it needed to happen.
What happened next, made a mockery of the intelligence of every football fan in Australia.
In a joint statement, the FFA and the Glory announced the club would accept the sanctions imposed on them. Despite their stance over the last week, Perth Glory FC would not appeal their finals ban. They would admit they breached the cap, pay their fines and lick their wounds. And then came the last sentence of the press release.
“We understand that Tony Sage has today accepted the resignation of the former CEO, who has accepted full responsibility, and acted alone, and we will work with Tony to ensure that Perth Glory rebuilds and has processes in place to ensure this does not happen again.”
If the FFA and Perth Glory think fans will believe Jason Brewer acted alone and had no help whatsoever, they have another thing coming.
I for one, would like to know, how on earth Tony Sage failed to realize he was spending a whopping $500,000 more on player salaries (bearing in mind the A-League salary cap is $2.55 million) this year than he had in previous years?
Perhaps Sage thinks the fans didn’t notice the salary cap breaches took place over the last three seasons, and Brewer wasn’t there in the first season?
The salary cap breach and subsequent fallout is the latest in a long line of controversies and poor decisions which have become an almost annual occurrence under Sage’s ownership.
Glory fans have suffered through overpaid, aging players who failed to live up to expectations (hello there Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns, Robbie Fowler, Youssouf Hersi).
They’ve put up with questionable coaches with little tactical nous, some of whom got the job simply because they were at the club (a not-so-warm welcome to Ron Smith, David Mitchell and Ian Ferguson).
They had to deal with the Alistair Edwards debacle, which saw the former fan favourite relieved of his coaching duties due to a player coup and alleged nepotism towards his own sons (who, the club could have told him not to sign, but allowed him to anyway).
In 2011, Sage entrusted administrator David Hatt to undertake a review of the club. The Hatt report outlined what Perth Glory had to do if they wanted to be successful. This included (but was not limited to): combine the training and administration facilities, create a football division at the club, focus on signing young, talented players instead of older players and improve relations with both the FFA and Football West.
At the time, the only real decisions made were to sack Director of Football David Mitchell and a few backroom staff. Fast forward to 2015 and this excerpt from an article on PerthNow.com reveals Hatt’s thoughts on the current state of the Glory.
“Most of Hatt’s recommendations in the review have not been carried out. The report called for Glory, ‘as a matter of urgency’, to establish combined training and administration facilities with Football West.
Glory’s relationship with both FFA and Football West remains poor.
There has been no ‘well-structured development pathway’ from the local competition to the Glory team for young WA players, the team does not have a formal player leadership group and the club does not have an advisory board ‘made up of high-calibre experts’.
Hatt said he supported Lowe, a coach identified as a strong option in the 2011 review.
But he was disappointment in the failure to adopt many of his recommendations.
‘I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, because I think some of those things are common sense elements of a modern, successful sporting team. No matter whether it’s the Australian men’s hockey team, or Fremantle footy club or whoever,’ Hatt said.
‘I think they are things that are basic to enduring success.’ ”
Sage was given an in-depth report on how to turn the club’s fortunes around, and he barely gave it a second thought.
It’s this type of ineptitude that has seen the relationship with fans deteriorate to the point of breaking point.
Some have even suggested rebranding the club. Cut ties with the Glory name, start a completely new club and rebuild.
It would be a sad end to a proud 19 year –history. But this is the horrific truth. People are seriously considering that the only way forward is via a new Perth club, with a new name, new colours and a fresh start.
I have supported Perth for 15 years, ever since I was 5 years old. I was at Subiaco Oval when Ivan Ergic scored THAT goal in the NSL Major Semi Final to secure a home Grand Final for the club. I remember watching the delayed broadcast of the 2003 Grand Final (Cheers Channel Seven), where we finally got the monkey off our backs. I remember watching Nik Mrdja’s golden goal the following year to win back-to-back premierships.
I remember Gareth Naven (who is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the club regarding his payout as assistant coach under Edwards), Scott Miller, Jason Petkovic, Jamie Harnwell, and one of the best strike forces in Australian football history, Damien Mori and Bobby Despotovski. I know of those players before my time, the legends of Vinko Buljubasic, Con Boutsianis and Vas Kalogeracos.
Even though Perth have been poor in the A-League, I grew up loving the NSL team. I would find it incredibly difficult to support another Perth team, even if they replaced the Glory.
I don’t think the Glory should die due to Sage’s poor running of the club.
Brewer may have taken the full blame, but the FFA have let Sage off the hook. Change is needed from the top down. Through all the Glory’s troubles in the A-League, the one constant has been the owner. Brewer’s sacking is nothing but a short-term fix.
The FFA’s satisfaction with how the situation has been “dealt with” is the easy way out. In the long-term, Sage will continue to drive fans away and Perth Glory will continue to be a laughing stock.